Suffering a refrigeration unit breakdown in mid-transit can prove to be catastrophic for your company and clients. Expensive shipments that depend on low temperatures to stave off spoilage can quickly be lost due to a malfunctioning unit.

Although refrigeration units are complex, it’s not impossible to figure out what might be wrong with them when they stop working correctly. Read on to learn more about what you can do when your refrigeration unit breaks down on the road:

Assess the Damage

Refrigeration unit problems can appear suddenly without a detailed, regular inspection schedule in place.

When you first notice an issue with any of your mobile refrigeration units, it helps to take a moment to carefully assess the situation and figure out what exactly is going wrong.

There are a few potential problems that vehicle operators tend to run into with refrigeration units that occur more often than others. These likely culprits are easy enough to identify if you know what to look for:

Automatic Stop/Start Mode Malfunctions

Many refrigeration units run continuously while the vehicle is turned on, periodically switching between heating and cooling modes to maintain the desired temperature for your perishable goods. This continuous mode is effective, but not very fuel efficient, leading to increased transportation costs.

A much more efficient automated stop/start mode has since grown in favor, achieving the same results without the added fuel use. However, this mode can break unexpectedly, leaving goods to spoil when your unit stops and then forgets to start again.

Reasons for this system breakdown include faulty starters and aging charging systems as these take the brunt of the unit’s operational burden.

Air in the Fuel System

If you have noticed, prior to your unit’s breakdown, that the engine was missing or shuddering in any way, you could be dealing with too much air in your fuel system.

Following a refueling, your unit may need bleeding and running clean to ensure it is free of all air before it can maintain a proper temperature.

Lack of Refrigerant

Your refrigeration unit should not be run with too little refrigerant as this causes the refrigerant to boil a bit too quickly, leading to higher temperatures than what you intended.

Ideally, the refrigerant level should be routinely tested during your unit’s regular scheduled maintenance. However, if you suspect the refrigerant level could be too low in your unit, you can test it by attempting to achieve a temperature of -18°C with an insulated bag placed over the unit’s evaporator. If your unit fails to do this, then the refrigerant level should be adjusted.

Faulty Glow Plugs

As your unit’s glow plugs begin to fail, you might begin to notice issues when starting it up for the first time in a while.

Bad glow plugs will fail to preheat your unit’s combustion chamber, making it more difficult to start whenever you are in a cold environment. Having the glow plugs replaced can quickly resolve your issues with an unresponsive refrigeration unit.

To Repair or Not to Repair

Attempting a manual repair of a broken or defective refrigeration unit while on the road is often not advisable.

An incorrect repair procedure carried out by someone with limited technical knowledge of a refrigeration unit’s components can compound the problem by causing other parts to stop working correctly. 

In addition to this, unlicensed personnel opening up a mobile refrigeration unit could quickly void your warranty, making it far more costly to perform more extensive repairs when the vehicle is no longer in transit.

Calling for Help

If you are not authorized to open up your refrigeration unit and get a closer look at its components, then it’s probably a bad idea to do so.

Instead, consider calling a certified repair person to assist you. Our trained experts here at Iceman can have someone on the way to fix your faulty refrigeration unit in no time to have a better chance of salvaging your shipment before any damage is done.

Tips to Prevent Refrigeration Unit Problems

Ideally, you should consider committing to a scheduled maintenance plan for your refrigeration units to ensure they are always up to working standards. With regular maintenance, the warning signs of impending failure can be found and fixed without putting costly perishables in jeopardy.

Besides adopting a good maintenance schedule, you should always pay attention to the accuracy with which your unit achieves and maintains intended temperatures. If you notice its accuracy faltering, have it inspected to root out whatever issues may be causing it to miss its targets.

Additional preventive measures you can try include the following:

  • Defrost regularly
  • Keep an eye on the unit’s settings
  • Clean the unit

Hiring a Trusted Refrigeration Repair Service

Here at Iceman, we take refrigeration repair and maintenance processes very seriously. Our trained technicians are certified to work on all major refrigeration brands and can be dispatched to all parts of Australia at a moment’s notice.

Iceman refrigeration experts take great care to solve your unit’s issues as quickly as possible, potentially getting it back in working order before spoilage of your perishable goods can take place.

Reach out to us to learn how Iceman can make maintaining and repairing your refrigeration unit easier all around.

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